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The Different Types Of Auto Paint Finishes

The Different Types Of Auto Paint Finishes

If you are thinking about having your vehicle repainted, there are several big decisions that must be made. You’ve probably got a color in mind, but a lot of people don’t stop to consider the type of finish that they want. Different types of paint create different visual effects, which are commonly called “finishes.” Let’s go over the different types of auto paint finishes and help you to choose the best one for you.


Solid Paint Finish

Your vehicle probably has this type of finish, as it is the standard for most new cars. Solid paint is just that: A solid color from a palette of the most common colors. After a single thick coat is applied, the paint is then covered with a clear varnish that provides extra protection against chipping, scratching, and the weather. In some cases, the paint is mixed with the varnish for more uniform performance.

The main plus for this kind of paint is its low cost. If you are on a tight budget, a solid paint finish is probably the right choice. However, these colors can be a little boring. If you want your vehicle to stand out from the crowd, solid paint is not the way to go.


Matte Finish

A matte finish can best be described as “flat.” These types of paint will dry with a slightly roughened surface. As a result, they reflect almost no light. Many people like this type of finish, although it is more common for high-end vehicles. A matte look definitely presents a high-class and distinguished appearance.

On the other hand, matte finishes are expensive, and they are a little harder to maintain. Without that light reflection, small flaws in the finish will be more visible, and it will be harder to repair those flaws without creating a smooth and reflective patch. It might actually be more cost-efficient to get a matte vehicle wrap, as this is cheaper and easier to replace.


Metallic Paint Finish

Metallic paint might be said to be the opposite of matte paint. It provides the maximum level of shine. By adding powdered metals (usually aluminum) to the paint, a sparkling effect is achieved. These finishes are meant to catch both the light and the eye.

This type of finish also tends to be more durable, allowing it to last longer. This is, of course, due to the presence of the powdered metal, making the paint much harder than it would normally be. Even when small flaws do develop, the shiny nature of this paint will make those flaws less noticeable. However, if the finish should become damaged, it can be very hard to match the old color. When you re-apply metallic paint, you have to do the entire vehicle to obtain the best results.


Pearlescent Paint Finish

Pearlescent paints are a little bit like metallic paints, as they are intended to provide a unique kind of shine that stands out from afar. Rather than using a powdered metal to achieve this effect, pearlescent paints use small crystals of a mineral called mica. Like a pearl, this mineral reflects and refracts the light, and this is what gives a pearl its unique and beautiful appearance. Obviously, real pearls would be far too expensive to grind up and use for paint, but mica provides a near-identical effect.

Pearlescent paints are among the more expensive options, and that is why they have become something of a prestige symbol. If you really want something that will draw a lot of attention, this is a great option. This isn’t something you would put on an old work truck…it’s meant for high-end vehicles, show cars, and things like that. Unfortunately, like metallic finishes, pearl finishes can be very hard to match and repair.


Choosing The Paint Finish That Is Right For You

When choosing a new auto paint finish, you need to think about the vehicle itself and how it will be used. Solid paint is the most common choice for many good reasons. It is cheap, easy to repair, and suited for any type of vehicle. If you expect your vehicle to be used roughly, solid paint is going to be the best choice by far. Every other type of finish is much more difficult to repair, mostly because those specialized finishes are more difficult to match.

Matte paint jobs are often used for certain parts of a vehicle rather than the entire vehicle. As we said, it can be pretty difficult to repair a matte paint job, so it’s easier to have small patches that can be repainted when needed. For instance, you might want to have a matte hood and spoiler while using a different kind of finish for the rest of the vehicle.

Metallic and pearl finishes are both made to do the same thing: Provide a lot of shine and sparkle. Obviously, these are the best options for a show car or something that is primarily intended for display. As for which one is better, that is a matter of personal preference. Both of them are a little more expensive and both of them are difficult to repair.

You should also consider your budget. Matte finishes are usually the most expensive options, so bear that in mind. Pearlescent finishes tend to be slightly more expensive than metallic options. Once again, solid paint is the only realistic option for those who are on a tight budget.



No matter what type of finish you want, you can count on the folks at Elmer’s Auto Body to get the job done. If you find yourself asking: “Where can I find a good auto body shop near me?”, the answer is right in front of your nose. Elmer’s Auto Body has been proudly serving South Jersey for over 70 years, and we provide the convenient and timely service that only true professionals can provide. If you would like more information about our services, feel free to call Elmer’s Auto Body at (856) 218-0202.

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